Having come from countries where counterfeit medication is a salient issue, and with a vested interest in medicine themselves, Bishoy Ghobryal (CCNY ’15) and Da Wi Shin (CCNY ’15) came up with a health IT solution to this problem with the help of various advisors. Their advisor Dr. Rajesh Vedanthan, a cardiologist at Mt. Sinai who worked with them on their Senior Design Project in biomedical engineering, expressed concern over the quality of medications in Kenya. He found that even though his patients were taking the medication he prescribed, they were not getting better. This discrepancy inspired Bishoy and Da Wi to initiate VERIPAD. Through Dr. Vedanthan, they were connected to Dr. Lieberman, a researcher at the University of Notre Dame, whom they have since worked with to develop the VERIPAD solution as it is today: a combination of a small paper test card, called the Paper Analytical Device (PAD), and a novel smartphone application.
After the team won the Social Impact Grand Prize at the Zahn Innovation Center at City College this year, their project took off. Y-Lan Nguyen (CCNY ’15), Chief Administrative Officer, joined the team this past April and manages the sales and marketing teams in NYC. Jason Ki, a pHD candidate for biomedical engineering at CCNY, joined over this past summer and is in charge of product development by focusing on refining the smartphone application. The following Q&A was discussed with Y-Lan.
How does the technology behind VERIPAD work? Please describe the Paper Analytics Device.
The VERIPAD solution is a combination of the Paper Analytical Device, also known as PAD, and a smartphone application. The PAD performs various chemical tests on your medication once water is added to create a unique color barcode for each medication. This color barcode is then interpreted by our smartphone app which also has a useful tutorial and background information about the medication.
Describe the impact of VeriPAD since initiation. Where is it being implemented?
We are currently preparing to launch our product in 2017, so we have been talking to interested parties from pharmaceutical companies, governmental agencies, to pharmacists and physicians to partner with us and give us feedback on our beta product. We hope to reduce mortalities from counterfeit medications in developing countries by offering an affordable and easy-to-use product and ultimately gather data from each test to better understand the flow of counterfeits within these affected regions.
What were some challenges you and your team faced and/or currently face regarding outreach or other aspects of the company?
A challenge for us has been the steep learning curve when it comes to starting a business. We all come from research backgrounds, so learning the jargon and strategies that comes with launching your own company has been a great feat but completely amazing.
What advice can you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
For aspiring entrepreneurs, it’s crucial that you keep yourself motivated and flexible. It can be a difficult journey because it has less structure than the normal job, but it has so much more possibility. In addition, every single day is different and so fast paced that it’s important to be flexible and simply adapt to the bumps in the road.
The team members at VERIPAD are “passionate about stopping the spread of counterfeit medication and hope to see [their] vision become a reality through this product.”